Thursday, February 25, 2010

They're Here

By Skeeter It is that time of year again here in my Georgia Garden. Do you remember the Blockbuster Movie Poltergeist? That was one scary movie in 1982 and still scares me today!
The most vivid line of the movie is when the little girl is watching TV and it starts going haywire then she says, "They're Here." I have my own Poltergeist in my garden in the form of little balls.
I have talked about these pesky Sweet Gum Tree Seed Pods in the past. Some of you wanted a few and I passed them along. Dawn made Wreaths while I made Reindeer . I saw a new craft made from gum balls while in TN for Christmas. My sister-in-law had painted them Gold and put ribbon on them with her Day Care children. They were pretty little shiny Balls hanging on the childrens' Christmas Tree. That's Right, they were pretty to my eyes. But they are not pretty to my eyes on the ground in my gardens! They dull the lawn mower blades until they rot, they sprout seedlings all over the place and they are difficult to get off the grass and driveway. I personally hate the things! Although I did enjoy seeing a flock of sparrows eating the seeds recently.
The trees are loaded with them and they will be a pain in my back for about the next 4 months or so as I gradually get them up! Arggggggg...Some Gum Trees show wonderful color in the fall but our gums have only been pretty one time in the 8 years we have lived here. Well, let me rephrase that. They were pretty during one fall and one winter. Winter being when the snow fell on them 12 days ago. I must admit, they were pretty covered with white fluff. The little Gum Balls were grabbing the snow as if a blanket to protect them self from the cold temperatures. Even though pretty being snow covered, I still hate the things in my yard! I so wish I could remove everyone of those trees from our land and replace them with something more practical. We have way too many and I must continue to deal with them in my own way as if my little round Poltergeist. THEY'RE HERE, In the Garden...

Note: Cameron tells me, Sweet Gums are in the Witch Hazel family! I find that an interesting fact...

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden


  1. Not to mention they hurt your feet when you step on the without shoes..we have them too....

  2. Oh dear, I wish you all the best with dealing with them! But I do agree, they look very pretty coverd in snow!

  3. Skeeter,

    Cleaning them up might keep you out of trouble, I did say might.

    Gum trees line my woods, yet rarely leave the balls in the yard. About every few years I trim out the seedling trees, cutting them now effect my breathing so I have to do it a little at a time.

  4. If you have trouble with cats making potty in your beds, use these as mulch. They also work for the same problem in houseplants.

  5. Charm hates to get sweetgums stuck between her long greyhound toes. She stops immediately and waits for us to come to her rescue!

    Think of sweetgum as Goldfinch food, squirrel food and chipmunk food.The trunk is actually a good furniture wood, too.

    Did you know that it is in the witch hazel family?


  6. I love the tree! It's a great shade tree with good fall colors. The balls are annoying though.

  7. In grade school my bus stop was under a sweet gum tree. The kids would throw the seed pods at each or smash them down the back of your shirt. Supposedly they made you itch so they called them "itchy balls". I always laugh now when I see them!

  8. They are cute little things, but it sounds as they irritate you as much as pine cones irritate me. Yesterday, I lifted my head and got scared: there are hundreds of them on the huge fir trees ready to fall on my driveway (hmm, are they pine cones of fir cones?or fir seeds?!). Anyway, your pictures are nice, especially those snowy ones. Golden balls that children made should be pretty. I think, we can say that they got lemons and made lemonade from them!

  9. Bummer! I know exactly how you feel as I don't like it when my pine cones begin falling. You just want to grit your teeth and make it go away, but alas, just like in spooky movies they don't go away. Hang tough with them. The sweet gum tree is a native tree and was vitally important to the woods and ecosystem in our area of the country. Maybe they'll be extra pretty this year to make up for the balls?

  10. I love those movies. They are still so dang scary!

    Sweet gums are so pretty but yes, I would have to have to clean those up. I have giant oaks in my yard which I hate just as much. Twigs, branchs, acorns, and late falling leaves, ugh!

  11. Skeeter, They are a sight to behold to me, course...I don't have them in my yard. I have the little hemlock cones (the size of a dime) and they don't hurt or effect the mower.
    I bought silver and gold spray paint to make a garland (sometime, ha!)
    I love the pictures of snow on them, our evergreens never get bare branched exposing the pinecones like your sweetgum, so pretty.

  12. I really like the looks of them with a blanket of snow, probably for the same reason Dawn stated.

    They do make very pretty crafts but I can see where they would be a pain. Where is the picture of the gold balls? Thought sure there would be one.

  13. Good Morning everyone! Sunny but still cold down here but no rain so I am kind of happy…

    Darla, I rarely walk into our yard barefooted as we have too much to sting the toes like bees…

    Gippslandgardener, Thanks…

    Randy, if only we were a bit wiser when we moved into this house. We did not realize some of the trees were gums until they grew much larger and started dropping the pods. If only we had paid attention then we could have cut them down when smaller and replaced them with something else…

    Les, never thought of keeping cats out of plants. I did put them in the hanging baskets one year to deter the finches. Those little toots picked up the balls one by one and removed them all to build their nest!

    Cameron, I did not know they were in the Witch Hazel family. I have seen so many witch hazels on the blogs recently and wish I had one. Now I know I do have them! ha, my newly learned thing for the day! I must add this info to the post, thanks. Our neighbors once had a little Yorkie named RJ. He would come to visit us and he would be dragging those gum balls along as they would grab his long fur. Poor thing, we would pick them out and send him back home with a treat…

    Dave, If I could, I would pack all of my Sweet Gum trees up and send them to your house, lol. They are so annoying…

    Jeanne, I am glad I reminded you of your childhood days. That is always fun. Itchy Balls, how funny…

    Tatyana, Yes they are so annoying. We have pine trees too but only one of those trees drops pinecone in an area where they must be removed. The pine cones are much larger so not as much of a pain to pick up...

    Tina, I don’t care how pretty they can be, they are ugly to me with those darn balls falling. I was just telling Tatyana how the pine cones are not as much an issue for me as the balls. I don’t mind the gums we have in the woods it is the half dozen or so not in the woods that bother me. I so wish to cut them some day…

    Michelle, our oak trees are Willow Oaks which have smaller acorns so they are not too much trouble but they do drop their leaves last in the fall or should I say late December. Their leaves are slender and don’t chop up well with the lawn mower either but we leave most of those leaves in the landscaping so I don’t mind them too much. There are two really close to the house that we are thinking about removing though…

    Dawn, Come on down and get all the trees you need! Do you need any more gum balls? I have plenty and will pick them up for you, just say the word…

    Jean, no picture of the gold balls, lol. I was at my brothers house and left the camera at my parents house. I should never go anywhere without my camera...

  14. Skeeter, they do look so pretty covered in snow! But then I find that snow can make a lot of things look better:) I don't have the sweet gum balls, but I do have pine cones everywhere...surely there has to be a market for these things somewhere.

    "Poltergeist" was one of the few scary movies I saw years ago...I agree the little girl's line had to be the scariest of all!

  15. Rose, I must find that sellers market for the gum balls! With my luck, we will remove the trees then the next day see in the paper where they are looking for gum balls for big money, lol Just our luck...

  16. Spanish moss used to be collected as stuffing for automobile seats and as packing material. I'm not so sure I would want the sweet gum balls for seat stuffing, but using them as filler material wouldn't hurt. One of our friends from Illinois uses them to supplement the charcoal in his grill. I have to admit they add a nice flavor to grilled meat and veggies.

  17. Hi Skeeter, I was just in Georgia and SC last week and guess what I did? I picked up a few of those gum balls and carried them home in my suitcase back to California where they are hanging from my chili lights (indoors). I was that charmed. So, one person's nemesis really can be another's treasure. :) And I agree, they are quite pretty covered with snow.

  18. W2W, Oh what a good idea about using them in the grill. I will get the Saint hot on that one as he is the Grillmeister in the house. As far as the Spanish moss goes, I stay clear of it as I recall the Red Bugs or is it the Bed Bugs biting, lol....

    Christine, Why didn’t you take them from my yard? lol, I will send you some more if you are interested in them. Just let me know as you can have all your little heart desires...

  19. Hi Skeeter, Love the Gum Tree for it colorful leaves, but don't like the balls.
    Last Spring I had a volunteer Gum Tree in my
    "Flag Pole Garden" & thanks to Tina's advice I removed it. So no balls to aggravate me.
    We have loads of the moss but I'd rather not bother with it. In the olden days they use to use it to make a mattress of sorts. I'm sure they knew a trick to get rid of the bugs.
    The one in the last pic reminds me of some sort of little bug with his house crossing the drive. Looks like he painted his house white. LOL

  20. They sure look prickly! But so pretty covered in snow. We have a huge Ponderosa pine and those long needles make me crazy. They are tangled in everything, I'm always trying to pull them out of the plants.

  21. I remember those sweet gum balls from my childhood; we had a tree in our yard then. I like them best in your snow pictures. That little one with snow on its back is quite cute. But I don't envy you the clean-up!

  22. So happy our zone does not like gum and those dreaded seed pods...I do see their benefit in the crafters world however. Ouch
    Have a great weekend

  23. What a lovely searies of photos.

  24. Lola, Glad you removed that sapling from your yard! How funny, a bug with white house. hee hee. I am not sure how they remove the bugs from moss either. I know when I bring stuff like pine cones in the house from the yard, I put them in plastic bags and put them in the freezer for a few days to kill the bugs. Then I shake them out once removed from the freeze. I learned that trick from my Mother in law which is an avid crafter and floral designer…

    Catherine, you have given me an idea for another topic! I have pine trees which drop needles in my Semi-Formal Flower Garden as well. I love the needles as mulch but am not happy when they act like spears and slice my plant leaves…

    Debsgarden, Oh I envy those which don’t have these pesky things in their yard. I hate, hate, hate them! It would be okay if they would stay in our natural areas of the yard but they drive me nuts on the grass, in flower beds and the driveway…

    Dar, They are an asset in a crafters world and I am a crafter of sorts but even at that, I could never use up the amount which fall into my sacred spots in the yard. I should advertise them for free for crafters to come and pick them up! I bet most crafters around here have their own supply in their yards as well though, lol….

    Stone Art, Thanks!

  25. Yeah those little seed pods are a huge annoyance. We have them everywhere in my area, and in the fall you can literally slip and fall on those little prickly pods.

  26. Parsec, Ah, you feel my pain then....